Can a murderer change?

October in Edinburgh can be pleasantly warm. Earlier that day, Ernst and Helga had been married, and now, on a perfect evening, they were enjoying a romantic stroll in the city’s Queen’s Park. Only one of them would return.

For many years I listened as people told me they wanted their lives to change. Some needed to quit smoking, some to save their marriage, some to stop drinking, some to lose weight, some to declutter their homes, some to have better relationships. A few did change; most did not. For many the effort and sacrifice change requires was too much.

This post is the first of two about ‘change’. In this blog I’ll tell Ernst and Helga’s story which, at the time of writing, happened almost exactly 50 years ago. It’s also a story which, in a small way, I encountered personally. In the next post I’ll set out four principles for change taken from another story, this one much older and better known.

I have several sources for my narrative of Ernst and Helga, the chief of which is a detailed account given by F.W.F. O’Brien QC in an address to The Medico-Legal Society in London in 1976.[1] O’Brien was the leading defence lawyer in the 1973 trial that followed the couple’s fateful walk in the Queen’s Park.[2]

Ernst Dumoulin was born in June 1951 in Minden, West Germany. His father was Dutch, and had been held in a concentration camp during World War II. When Ernst was one-year-old the family moved to Rotterdam, but returned to Germany when he was eight.

On leaving school Ernst went to a commercial college, and then trained as a bank assistant. He got engaged when he was 20 but that relationship soon ended. A few months later, in July 1972, he placed a newspaper advert for a wife. That was unusually bold, but a reply came from Helga Konrad who was 18-years-old. She may have been lonely. Her family was wealthy but old-fashioned, and much of her youth involved working on the family farm. Marrying Ernst had a strong appeal for Helga.

Just three weeks after the advert and first contact, Ernst arrived at the farm and asked Helga’s father for permission to marry his daughter. Unsurprisingly consent was not given. Her father made it clear Ernst would need to wait at least six months. That was too long for Ernst.

In September he bought a new red Fiat car he could not afford. His cheque bounced, but he had the car and drove to the Konrad farm. Ernst asked permission to take Helga for a short drive, and her father reluctantly agreed. As she left Helga waved back to her parents. She never returned.

Ernst and Helga’s drive was anything but short. They went to France, sold the car, and with the money bought air tickets to London. During the flight, Ernst had a chance conversation with another passenger and learned that getting married in Scotland was easier than England, so they journeyed north from London to Edinburgh.[3]

Only four or five days after leaving the farm in Germany the couple rented a room in an Edinburgh boarding house owned by Herbert Wood. They told him they planned a civil wedding at the nearby Registrar’s office as soon as they’d fulfilled the three week residency qualification in Scotland.[4] Wood had no problem with that.

The following day, Ernst used the last of the car-sale money to make a large bank deposit. With the bank account came a sizeable credit allowance, and Ernst knew exactly how he would use that credit. Two days later the couple met with the senior manager of a life insurance company and filled out forms for sizeable insurances on his life and Helga’s

The insurance company had second thoughts, and passed the business to another company. Their officials met with the couple and agreed policies to insure Helga’s life for £206,184 and Ernst’s life for £190,480. In each case the pay-out would be doubled in the event of accidental death. These were enormous sums in 1972. If Helga died accidentally then, in today’s value, the company would pay between £4.4 million and £6 million.[5] If Ernst died, the amount paid would be the equivalent today of between £4 million and £5.6 million.[6] Three quick points are relevant here: 1) The amounts covered are enormous; 2) The couple had nothing like enough money to afford the premium payments – Ernst covered a partial payment of the first premium only by drawing on his newly acquired credit allowance; 3) The fact that they were both insured, especially against accidental death, is significant.

With these insurances in place, and residency requirements fulfilled, Ernst and Helga were married in a Registrar’s office at 10.30 am on Friday 13th October.[7] Witnesses were required, and the obliging landlord Herbert Wood and his wife fulfilled that duty. After the ceremony the Dumoulins and Woods had lunch at a nearby restaurant. While they enjoyed the meal, Helga explained that Ernst planned to become a financial advisor and she would be his secretary. With her parents so opposed to their marriage, they would not return to Germany.

That afternoon the couple walked in Queen’s Park, and climbed to the top of Salisbury Crags to enjoy the fabulous view of Edinburgh, especially its castle, palace and the water of the Firth of Forth not far off. Salisbury Crags is one of the most imposing features of Edinburgh’s skyline, a semi-circle of sheer cliffs part way up a hill. It formed some 340 million years ago. In the days of the Scottish Enlightenment, philosophers, politicians and other eminent citizens walked round a track at the foot of the crags while engaged in deep thought. Braver and stronger souls climbed to the top (by an accessible path) to enjoy the higher view. (During many years of living in Edinburgh, I went to the top of Salisbury Crags several times. No-one should get near the edge, especially on windy days.)[8]

Salisbury Crags Photo by Reinhold Möller CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Apparently Helga suggested they return to the same place that evening when the view across the city to the sun setting in the west would be spectacular. It was a great plan. They set off around 8 o’clock, strolled back to the park, climbed the hill and found a quiet place high above the steep cliffs. Around 9  o’clock a merchant seaman, walking on the path below the crags, found Helga’s body. She was dead.

The seaman alerted two police officers, then almost immediately Ernst appeared. He’d run down the hill and around the base of the cliffs to where Helga lay. He was shouting for someone to get an ambulance because his wife had fallen. More people arrived on the scene, and all testified that Dumoulin was greatly distressed, describing him as ‘very agitated’, ‘in shock’, ‘hysterical’, ‘very upset’, ‘shivering uncontrollably’. One of the police officers said Dumoulin was ‘crying and shaking’. All Ernst could say was that he and Helga were enjoying a special time together when she slipped and fell. That was very possible, and no-one doubted his story. He was treated at hospital for a minor injury, after which he returned to his lodgings.

Two days later – on the Sunday – Ernst telephoned Helga’s father in Germany, and told him that he and Helga had married. When Herr Konrad asked where Helga was, Ernst replied, ‘She is in heaven’.

Later that day Ernst met with a representative of the insurance company, and found that the procedures for the policies had not been completed so no payment to him would be possible. That appears to have panicked Ernst who asked if the insurance documents could be torn up. Not only did that not happen, the company decided to inform the police.

Ernst was arrested on the Monday morning, and, with his solicitor present, he was cautioned and charged with the murder of his wife. His landlord, Herbert Wood, went into Ernst’s room to tidy up, and found letters and receipts for the insurance policy. He also alerted the police, the insurance company confirmed the details of the policy, and that Ernst had already attempted to make a claim.

In answer to the charge of murdering his wife, Ernst Dumoulin made a statement that he had pushed his wife and that caused her to fall down the cliffs, but he had not intended to murder her. Nor did he have any motive to gain money. ‘I am no murderer’ he said in German.

Scotland has a strict time limit within which trial proceedings must begin, so there was no long delay before Dumoulin was in court. He lodged a plea of not guilty and a plea of self defence.  His formal trial in the High Court in Edinburgh began on 23 January, 1973. It lasted ten days.

Among those called to give evidence were representatives of the life insurance company. They were clear that the policy applications were incomplete. None of the policies had advanced enough to be effective. But did Dumoulin know that? The company official who dealt with Ernst said it had been made very clear to Dumoulin that some matters could only be finalised after the wedding, and until that was done the policies would not be operative. Ernst’s lawyer, O’Brien, believed that negated the motive for murder. He said later, ‘No one commits murder to gain money from insurance policies which he knows have not come into effect’.

The insurance issue was, of course, only part of the evidence given to the jury. Two expert witnesses from the University of Edinburgh were called, one a specialist in forensic medicine and the other in pathology and forensic medicine. Helga’s body had many injuries, including severe fractures of the skull resulting in extensive brain damage. On these details the experts were as one. However, the two men differed in their theories of how Helga had fallen, such as whether feet first or by some form of somersault off the edge. But, critically, they agreed that the girl’s injuries did not match with a slip over the edge. Rather, as one put it, her body went into an arc either because she ran and jumped or because she was pushed violently.

As an aside, my small personal encounter with this case was that I was present at the trial on the day when these experts gave their forensic evidence. I was studying criminology at the time, and decided to attend a High Court trial, which happened to be this one.

There were discrepancies between the experts’ testimonies, but, as it turned out that did not matter. With the prosecution case finished, Ernst gave evidence on February 1.

Here are key features of his evidence:

  • He confessed to planning an insurance fraud
  • Both he and Helga would be insured
  • He would disappear and Helga would claim the money (the scheme involved leaving clothing on Cramond Island, which sits just offshore from Edinburgh)
  • The insurance on Helga’s life was simply an ‘alibi’ (by insuring both, nothing would appear sinister)
  • On the crags that evening, he and Helga had sat for half an hour close to the edge
  • She stood up to leave, and as he also rose he felt a short, firm push beneath his shoulder blades
  • That shove in the back bent him forward but he did not fall
  • Helga then rushed at him trying to push him backwards towards the edge
  • He took hold of her wrists, turned her, and pushed her away, not over the cliffs but parallel to them
  • She spun round, overbalanced and fell head first over the edge
  • He did not believe Helga’s motive was money, and could think only that she was insane at that moment

In summary, Ernst’s self-defence argument was that Helga had tried to kill him, and she fell when he protected himself.

Other witnesses were heard, and then the trial ended with the judge addressing the jury for two and a half hours on matters of law, including the presumption of innocence. They could reach any one of three verdicts: guilty; not guilty, not proven. The last of these – ‘not proven’ – is unique to Scotland. It means the case has not been made for a guilty verdict, but is not sufficiently clear for a not guilty verdict. There is no difference at all between the outcome of ‘not guilty’ and ‘not proven’ – the accused goes free and generally cannot be retried on the same charges.

By a majority of 11 to 4 the jury found Dumoulin guilty of murder.[9] He was sentenced to life imprisonment and, as was usual in such cases, no minimum term for serving the sentence was set.

Why did Ernst murder Helga? It seems he actually believed the insurances were settled, and thus he’d gain a small fortune from her death. If so then, as his lawyer O’Brien said later, Helga died and Dumoulin served a life sentence only because he misunderstood what he had been told about the policies not yet being effective, or he thought he knew better and that they were in force. Whatever the explanation, Helga’s death over Salisbury Crags was an act of evil. It cost him 16 years of imprisonment in Saughton prison.

However, my story of Ernst Dumoulin does not end at this point. As I mentioned earlier I sat through at least a day of his trial, and read later about the verdict and his life imprisonment. For several months my thoughts kept returning to him.

It is hard to explain, but for some reason I felt Dumoulin needed help to change. I had no idea whether he wanted to change, but there was one thing I could do to spur him towards a better life. I owned a copy of the New Testament in German, and about two years after Ernst was convicted I felt an urge to send him that German language New Testament. I hoped he would read it, turn to God for forgiveness, and begin a new life.

I never sent it. I had good intentions, but made the dreadful mistake of not acting promptly on my intentions. Time passed. The thought drifted away. Ernst Dumoulin never got help from me.

But it seems he got help from a far superior source, and Ernst did change. I do not know the details, other than his own statement much later that during his time in prison he ‘found God’. Most people who talk like that mean not only that they come to believe in God’s existence, but that they feel forgiven and try to live a new, better life. That is what happened with Ernst.

When he emerged from Saughton, he was different on the inside from the man who entered that prison 16 years before. Ernst Dumoulin had changed. He was still only in his late 30s, and whatever happened while in prison set him on a new path. He returned to Germany, studied theology for five years, remarried, got ordained for Christian ministry and became a pastor in a small town.

In 2006, he gave a German newspaper an account of what happened 34 years earlier on Salisbury Crags. He described it as the ‘darkest night of his life’. The couple sat on the edge of the cliffs. He held Helga in his arms, wanting her to feel loved and sure they had a wonderful future ahead. Then he’d suggested they should go home. ‘I got up,’ he said, ‘put a hand on her shoulder and acted as though I had tripped up. I didn’t want her to know I was a murderer. I pulled her and her body fell, and after that everything was quiet.’ His words were a very public confession.

John Hislop, writing in The Edinburgh Reporter, told Dumoulin’s story in October 2012, exactly 40 years after Helga’s murder. Remarkably, some weeks later Ernst Dumoulin sent him a reply from Germany. It was short, saying how surprised he was that the bad deeds of his past still drew negative attention. Then he wrote this: ‘If at all, I wish for the general welfare of people, that it might for the future be shown, that God is able to raise a small pretty flower out of a heap of dung.
With kind regards,
Ernst Dumoulin[10]

His earlier life and actions, Ernst said, was a heap of dung. But that was then, not now. He had changed, and his new life was ‘a small pretty flower’.

Some will never be able to see Ernst that way. Perhaps that’s how it has been for Helga’s parents who had the terrible pain of burying their daughter’s body 300 yards from their home. But Dumoulin’s life after prison was very different from before. He was not the man he had once been.

Change is hard but possible. In the next post I’ll describe four critical steps to bring about change in our lives.


[2] Queen’s Park – also known as Holyrood Park – lies right beside Holyrood Palace (the Edinburgh residence for royalty), and only a short distance from the city centre. It is no ordinary park, measuring 5 miles in diameter with mountains, marshes, moorlands and lochs. A short summary of the Park’s features is here

[3] Parental consent has never been required for marriage in Scotland, which was the major reason young couples would elope north to Scotland for their wedding service. Until 1929, the age for marriage in Scotland was 12 for girls and 14 for boys. In 1929 the minimum age was set at 16.

[4] At that time couples were required to have been resident in Scotland for three weeks before their wedding. That law was abolished in 1977.

[5] The modern equivalents vary according to exactly which inflationary factors are taken into account.

[6] At the time of writing this blog post, £6 million = $6.7 million.

[7] I don’t believe in superstitions, but many have made a point of noting the day and date of Ernst and Helga’s wedding.

[8] Details of Salisbury Crags here and here

[9] There are 15 jurors in a Scottish criminal trial. A verdict is always reached, no matter how small the majority.

[10] From

A good tree bears good fruit

Imagine that your boss is treating you unfairly. Your workload has been increased, your hours changed, your workplace moved to a small corner, and your requests for time-off are constantly denied. Enough is enough, and you complain to senior management. You hear that the top bosses will assign one of the directors to review your situation. You know all the directors, and the reviewer will be either Benevolent Bert or Careless Colin. Bert has an impeccable reputation: well-informed, thoughtful, honest, wise, and fair. Colin couldn’t be more different: dishonest, reckless, unwise, uncaring, and self-centred. So, Benevolent Bert or Careless Colin? Who do you hope will review your situation? The answer is obvious. You want Benevolent Bert.

The logic behind that choice is that a good, fair, thoughtful person will make good, fair, thoughtful decisions. And that’s exactly the logic that underpins what philosophy calls virtue ethics. The idea aligns with an analogy of Jesus: ‘every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit’ (Matthew 7:17). Whether a tree or a person, whatever is at the core is what emerges as ‘fruit’ from its life.

Virtue ethics is not at all new. More than 300 years before Jesus, Greek philosophers like Plato and his pupil Aristotle wrote about virtue.[1] Aristotle said no-one was born either good or bad by nature. Virtue is not an accident of birth. Rather, according to Aristotle, virtues are choices. You use reason to know what’s right and to decide to do right, and the more you make that choice the more virtuous you become. Your inner nature – your disposition – becomes good, and in turn what you do is good.

Now, a tendency or a bias towards what’s good isn’t a guarantee of doing right every time. Joe exercises great control over his diet, unless, that is, someone brings cream doughnuts into the office, and that’s more than Joe’s discipline can resist. The Greeks had a word for that moment: akrasia. It means weak-willed – knowing what’s right but not doing it. Of course we can go wrong in several ways, such as making poor decisions because we’re too tired, or making a bad judgment because we hadn’t gathered all the facts of a situation.

But occasional carelessness or weakness of will doesn’t change the fundamental point: virtuous people tend to act virtuously. Someone whose character is good, kind, generous, thoughtful, will make decisions that fit with their character. Likewise, the person who is selfish, mean, careless, rash will make bad decisions.

So, that’s the moral theory called virtue ethics. It comes with several implications, including these three:

Virtuous actions are thoughtful, careful choices.  Good people are not simply wired to be good, or have a habit of being good. They choose to be good. But surely a habit of doing good would help? Mostly it wouldn’t, because habits are thoughtless – actions which are really reactions. Suppose Colin began investigating your work situation and made up his mind after speaking only to your manager, completely convinced by his side of the story. Nothing you said later could change his opinion. You would feel badly wronged. He hadn’t investigated the whole situation, and heard both cases. He just reacted to what he was told first, and that meant an injustice was done. Finding the virtuous answer requires care. Swift reactions are usually inappropriate.

On these sticks of rock, ‘Blackpool Rock’ writing is throughout Hazel Scott from Sheffield, UKCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Sticks of ‘Brighton Rock’ Paul Hudson from United KingdomCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Virtue must be deeply embedded in someone’s character. That’s what makes it a consistent character trait, something deep in a person’s soul. As a child our family often vacationed at a seaside resort. As often as possible I got my parents to buy me a stick of rock. For the uninitiated, I’m not referring to a lump of stone but what is described as ‘a type of hard stick-shaped boiled sugar confectionery most usually flavoured with peppermint or spearmint’.[2] Nothing could be worse for dental health, but I enjoyed licking or biting my rock stick until it got smaller and smaller. But what never changed? Answer: the writing in the stick that had the name of the resort. The writing on one end of the stick was the same at the other end, because it ran right through its whole length. Virtue should be like that: reliable, consistent, invariable. It can’t be there only one day and not the next, or there when the situation is easy and gone when it’s tough.

Many years ago, when the Glasgow area called the Gorbals had the worst of tenement slums, I visited a young Christian worker who lived in the most troubled-area of the Gorbals. Not only were these tenements in dangerously poor condition, gangs and drugs dominated the streets. That young man’s small flat was over-run with local kids, who ate his food, watched his TV, lounged on his sofa, and sometimes stole his property. No matter how tough his life was, that Christian didn’t leave. He kept right on befriending youth, helping them and forgiving them. And because his commitment never varied, they listened to him, and some lives were changed. Real virtue is a through-and-through trait. There’s nothing superficial or temporary about it.

Real virtue is costly. That’s clear from the last example, but it’s not an isolated case. Think how tough it is to stand up for a bullied fellow-student or colleague. Or how hard it is to give generously to alleviate poverty. Or how worrying to take a phone call at 3 am from someone threatening to commit suicide. Or how difficult to tell the truth when that will hurt a friend or damage your own reputation. But virtue doesn’t take the easy road. It doesn’t shy away from hard situations or challenging decisions. Virtue faces hardship head on and doesn’t blink. It keeps on doing what’s right, whatever the cost.

So, does virtue ethics – as a moral theory – have the answer to every dilemma? Can we abandon the theories mentioned in earlier blogs like deontology (strict observance of rules) or consequentialism (defining rightness by whether outcomes are good or bad)?

Unfortunately I don’t think we can. Just as those other moral theories had weaknesses, so does virtue ethics. I’ll list three.

Understandings of virtues differ across cultures    Today we regard slavery as a terrible evil. But both Plato and Aristotle (mentioned earlier) had slaves. Aristotle had no problem saying slaves were essential to a household’s economy. Was Aristotle simply being a man of his time? Yes, he was. But that means people then had different virtues from people now. And people in the future may have different virtues to ours. Even people who live at the same time but in different places have different lists of virtues. If there’s no lasting universal understanding of virtue, that must leave a theory like virtue ethics resting on a changeable foundation. And, at any particular moment, applicable only within its own culture.

Virtue responses can vary from person to person    A deontologist will tell you what the rule is that addresses the rightness of an action. No negotiation – the right thing is predetermined. A consequentialist will calculate whether the action, on balance, gives a good result – if so, it’s right and if not, it’s wrong. These theories give precise answers about right and wrong. Virtue ethics doesn’t. Sometimes all it offers is ‘do whatever is best in the circumstances’.

But what one virtuous person thinks best may be different from what another thinks best. In previous blogs I illustrated what dirty hands means by using an imagined scenario by Michael Walzer: a terrorist has planted bombs with timers; he is arrested but won’t reveal where the bombs are planted; a politician must decide whether torture can be authorised to make the terrorist talk; torture is evil and illegal, but not torturing the terrorist may mean hundreds die. So, what is the right thing to do? That’s the challenging scenario. Now let’s adapt it by imagining the decision will be made either by Politician Maureen or Politician Nancy. Both are highly virtuous people, but they’re virtuous in different ways. Maureen is strong in care towards the needy: giving generously; visiting homeless shelters; talking with people sleeping in shop doorways. Nancy has past experience of dealing with major emergencies: she has the ability to assess priorities; courage to take hard decisions; awareness of the needs of first responders; boldness in demanding government resources. If I had to choose the right person for the ‘torture or no torture of the terrorist’, I would prefer Nancy, because she has experience of extreme situations. But I can believe others would choose Maureen because her sensitivity might win over the terrorist. And they might be right about that. But my point is this: there’s a problem when the decision made depends on the strength of the particular virtues someone has. A sensitive Maureen will choose a different action from a decisive Nancy. The dominant virtues in one are soft and caring, and the dominant virtues in the other are boldness and certainty, and their particular character traits may be yielding opposite solutions when faced with exactly the same circumstances. How can that be right or good? Are we simply to hope that the politician who shows up is strong in exactly the virtues necessary for a particular situation?

Virtue ethics doesn’t specify right actions    This follows on from my previous point. Many criticise virtue ethics because the theory may point you in a good direction but it never tells you exactly what to do. To be fair, you can’t be deemed a failure for not doing what you never claimed you could do. And this theory only claims that a virtuous person will act virtuously, but, because circumstances vary, it doesn’t spell out what exactly that would mean. But is that a flaw?

I don’t think it is for two reasons.

First, we must be reasonable. No-one is unfailingly right, and therefore the virtues of even the best person will not be unfailingly correct. Nor, of course, will rule-followers always apply their rules perfectly, or consequentialists identify the right outcome perfectly. There are problems defining exactly what is right with those systems too, so why blame virtue ethics when it can’t specify what’s provably right?

Second, all moral theories need a healthy dose of humility. If a parent thinks their child isn’t applying himself to his schoolwork, does he punish or encourage? Or a neighbour is struggling with debt, so do you give them money or let them learn their lesson the hard way? Many times we just don’t know what is right, and even afterwards we may not be certain. In the end, we do what we think best. And that’s exactly what virtue ethics does too – what’s reasonable, what seems helpful, what looks correct. After all, the outcome from someone truly trying to do the virtuous thing can’t be too bad.

Personally, in whatever the situation (the dirty hands kind or any other moral dilemma), I would want virtuous people to be the leaders and deciders. Could virtue be the sole-guide? I don’t think so. Virtue ethics should be influential, but I think rules are also an important guide, and consequences always have to be considered.

If you’ve found this blog on virtue ethics confusing, I apologise. My mind goes back to my early journalism years when I would call a professor or top scientist for details of their new breakthrough. They’d talk without pause for five minutes, and I understood nothing at all they said. When they drew breath, I’d ask them to put it more simply. Another three minutes of rapid talk would follow. I still had no idea what they were on about. I might try one more time, still get nowhere, thank them for their time and write for the paper the two sentences I’d actually grasped from their explanations. People who have been absorbed in a subject are rarely able to explain it clearly and concisely to others. I am sorry if I am one of those.

I’ll do better next time… I hope.

[1] Plato lived from around 428 to 348 BC, and Aristotle from 384 to 322 BC.


So rudely interrupted…

Here is a question: Who restarted his newspaper column with the words, ‘As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted…’? And what interrupted him? The answer is below.

My personal interruption to this blog has been not nearly so long nor so justified as was the break that writer was forced to take. Nevertheless I regret that it was necessary.

As the previous two blog posts explained, I have been finishing a degree in philosophy, and writing a dissertation on ‘dirty hands’ – the circumstance when you may have to commit one ‘evil’ in order to prevent an even greater ‘evil’. The example given is a politician authorising torture to get a terrorist to reveal where bombs are hidden which, if detonated, would kill hundreds. Torture is always bad, but might it not be even worse to allow the deaths of many innocent people? The question asked in the last blog was, Does the end really justify the means?

Well, thankfully, my nearly 12,000 words on the subject are written and submitted, with a verdict some months away. The degree has been interesting, challenging, informative and occasionally disturbing. Like climbing a mountain, you’re glad to be at the finish rather than about to start.

The last two blogs I wrote were about rule-keeping and consequentialism. There was always meant to be a third, but then my work became more pressurised and there was insufficient time to do justice to any blogs. So, regretfully, on August 21st I was interrupted by the necessity of academic study.

But who more famously wrote about being so rudely interrupted, and what interrupted him? There are two answers about who it was. His actual name was Sir William Neil Connor (26 April 1909 – 6 April 1967),[1] but he wrote under the pen-name Cassandra in the British newspaper The Daily Mirror between 1935 and 1967. What interrupted him? It was World War II, which squeezed so much that was not ‘hard news’ off the pages.

I am happy to report my interruption is over, and the final part of my ‘philosophical’ trilogy will appear soon.